{Before & After} A Newborn Photo Editing Tutorial for Lightroom

May 24, 2012

in Before & After, Fix-It Friday, Lightroom, Photography Tutorials

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

We are happy to welcome Helen John to our Before & After series today. Helen is an active I Heart Faces Community member where she regularly participates in Fix-it Fridays, a photo editing exercise offered to the community each week. Today she will be sharing her Lightroom workflow on one of her beautiful newborn images.

Creating Creamy Newborn Skin in Lightroom

Baby C slept like a champ for his newborn session, which resulted in tons of gorgeous images. The sweet little boy came to my home for our session, where I use a studio set-up with a mix of on and off camera lighting. This shot was taken using my 24-70 L lens, and my settings were ISO 100, 30 mm, f/2.8, 1/160sec. I edited this photo exclusively using Lightroom 3, which I use primarily for my simple, clean photo editing process.  This is the original image:

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

Step 1 – Exposure

Since the image is a little dark, I first adjust the exposure, adding almost 1 stop (.90) and add a little fill light (.14) to brighten it up.

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

Step 2 – Skin Tone

Next, I adjust the white balance a tad until the skin tone is right. This makes the image slightly cooler and less magenta – read: the skin color less orange and pink. Newborn skin tones can be tricky, especially if they have a touch of jaundice. Trust your eye, and if necessary, come back to the photo after youʼve left it alone for a bit and can look at it again “fresh.”

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

Step 3 – Spot Removal

Newborn skin tends to have lots of little blotchy patches, acne, peeling, etc, so the spot removal tool is your best friend. This baby boy happened to have amazing skin, so he only needed a few touch ups. I set the tool to ʻhealʼ and try to keep the spot as small as necessary to remove the imperfection. Sometimes you have to play with it a bit to get the skin to look right, and itʼs easy to move the circle to a different place to find a spot that makes the most natural looking replacement for the blemish. Here, Iʼve had to remove some red spots from the face and body, as well as the marks his diaper left around his bottom. I also used the tool in two of the corners of the photo – dadʼs shoe in the upper left and my real floor peeking out in the bottom left.

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

Step 4 – Skin Smoothing

Since we want a newbornʼs skin to look as creamy and smooth as possible (without looking plastic), the next step is to select the brush tool. Then, from the drop-down menu, select ʻSoften Skinʼ and begin painting over the areas of skin you want to even out. I add more clarity in images where the skin begins to look unnatural, but in this case I left it at -100. The red shows you exactly where youʼve made changes with the paint brush.

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

Step 5 – Contrast

Instead of adding contrast in the “Basic” tools section, I scroll down to the “Tone Curveʼ section where I can control these elements more precisely. For this photo, I added +17 to the highlights, +24 to the lights, and decreased the shadows by -19.

I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

Step 6 – Crop

I select the cropping tool and adjust the photo slightly so that the crib is closer to centered. Lastly, I add a subtle vignette (-62) to highlight the subject.
I Heart Faces Before & After Photo Editing Tutorial

That’s it! Here’s the before and after photos side by side:
I Heart Faces Photo Editing tutorial

Helen John for I Heart FacesHelen John specializes in modern baby and family portraiture and is located in the DC Metro Area. When she’s not busy chasing around her two wild boys, she strives to capture the authentic interactions between families and the precious connections within each relationship. Be sure to check out Helen’s website, blog, and visit her on Facebook or follow her on Pinterest.

Now it’s your turn!

Join us in our free Photography Community tomorrow for Fix-it Friday. At that time you will be able to download a high-res version of Helen’s beautiful photo, edit it in your own style, and share your results with the other members in our forum. Not a member of our I Heart Faces Community? Click here to join!

Don’t Miss Our Ultimate Newborn Photography Guide. An amazing FREE resource for all photographers!

Newborn Photography Tutorials | Baby Photography Guide

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

KarahC October 25, 2015

thanks, That was so helpful. I recently shot a baby that had awful baby acne all over, poor thing. I was trying to find something to help with editing it out and I didn’t know about the skin smoothing tool. Saved me session!


Reina November 12, 2014

Great blog right here! Also your site a lot up fast!
What web host are you the usage of? Can I am getting your associate hyperlink
on your host? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol


Brandi July 24, 2014

The skin tone and spot removal tips were very helpful. The before and after picture is amazing. Just shows how far these programs have came!


acne Treatment April 26, 2013

However, it also has the added benefit of reducing acne scars.

Still, at least I found a treatment that actually
worked when at one point I thought that
it was not possible to do so. Spot sulfur treatment that
it includes has also given positive results among a large number of users.


Samantha D February 5, 2013

Love this! I’ve been trying to figure out how to soften skin without Photoshop (I had it on my old computer, but only have Lightroom on my new one) and it has been very frustrating! I didn’t know about the skin soften tool! Thanks so much!


Janelle July 23, 2012

Never mind — I figured it out!


Janelle July 23, 2012

Okay, maybe I’m stupid, but I’m stuck on something. I’m trying to soften and smooth the skin with the adjustment brush, and it turns red/pink like above, but then when I export, it stays that color! How do I tell where I’ve already smoothed, yet have the finished product look normal, not neon pink??


Janelle May 27, 2012

I have lightroom but haven’t used it to its full extent! Wow, I didn’t know the spot removal and the brush tool!! Thanks


Declan Mc Glone May 25, 2012

Before & After – Photo Editing Tutorial for Lightroom #photography http://t.co/gxiQeqts


Lyndsay May 24, 2012

This tutorial is great! One of these days if you could find the time to do the same type of tutorial for those of us with PSE, I’d really appreciate it!


Jerry May 24, 2012

Thank you thank you thank you. Very helpful tutorial here. Lighting is often as tall wall to climb, but you’ve enlightened me some more on which is the effective tool to consider and use. My road to almost perfect is getting straighter……………


Amy Locurto May 24, 2012

RT @iheartfaces: Before & After – Photo Editing Tutorial for Lightroom http://t.co/SeXPUqWt


D. Cowden May 24, 2012

This is one of the best editing tutorials I’ve seen on here.


Rafaela May 24, 2012

This is so nice!
Thanks so much! I need this!


Jen May 24, 2012

This was an amazingly helpful tutorial, even for those of us without Lightroom (I use PSE 10). And I literally said, “Wow” when I saw the before and after comparison. Great job, and I hope to use some of the tips, very soon, on some of my upcoming photos!!


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